Even after years—decades, actually—of sexual education and STD awareness campaigns, new STD diagnosis rates are on a surprising rise in the United States. Actually, a new bulletin from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes an upsetting reality of sexual health in the US right now. Alas, some diseases have reached levels the country has not seen in nearly 20 years; and others are near all-time highs.
The new CDC report has been determined out of data collected between 2017 and 2018. This data shows syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are all on a shocking rise all over the US. Specifically, 115,000 syphilis cases and more than 580,000 new gonorrhea cases were diagnosed during that period, alone. Neither of these conditions have seen levels this high since 1991. Chlamydia has jumped 3 percent, nationwide: a rate that might not seem like much, but it brings the totals to more than 1.7 million; the highest it has ever been.
Gonorrhea has seen the second highest rate of increase, at 5 percent but syphilis has seen the biggest growth: at 14 percent. What might be the worst of it, though, the rate of syphilis infections among newborn babies are up a shocking 40 percent over the same period last year.
Babies, of course, contract syphilis from their mothers, which puts them at a significantly higher risk. Syphilis is actually attributed with extremely higher risk for stillbirth and newborn death; but even if the baby survives there is also an increased risk for serious developmental disease.
According to the CDC’s Gail Bolan, MD, “There are tools available to prevent every case of congenital syphilis. Testing is simple and can help women to protect their babies from syphilis—a preventable disease that can have irreversible consequences.”
Among these tools, of course, the CDC highlights a handful of things that need to change to reduce these numbers (and the associated risks). Of course, a decrease in condom use is largely responsible for the rise in syphilis cases. When you combine this with other risk factors, like drug use and poverty—and lower instances of STD awareness programs at both the local and state levels all overt the United States—it is actually not too surprising to see how STD diagnoses are on the rise.